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Across The Great Small Biz Digital Divide
[September 20, 2005]

Across The Great Small Biz Digital Divide

TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist

A study commissioned by a satellite broadband provider has found that between 30 and 70 percent of small businesses, depending on location, do not have access to terrestial broadband.

The "Broadband Access Survey," conducted by and commissioned by Hughes Network Systems surveyed 250 small businesses. It found that of those who do not use broadband, about two in five, or 43% say that it is not available to them.

Over two-thirds of the American small businesses surveyed who do use a broadband connection say that the most important factor in its use is that it either "saves them time or helps them better service their customers," according to survey results. About 40 percent cited its ability to help them respond rapidly to online customer inquiries. High-speed Web surfing was the most important benefit for 28 percent.

The survey also found that 35 percent of small businesses that are in urban locations do not have terrestrial broadband access to the Internet, 44 percent of small businesses that are in suburban locations do not have terrestrial broadband access and a full 76 percent of small businesses in rural locations do not have terrestial broadband access to the Internet.

Overall, 60 percent of companies with 1-10 people do not have terrestrial broadband access to the Internet.

A group calling itself Consumers For Cable Choice charges that U.S. cable regulation has a "disproportionate impact on small business." Many small businesses, CFCC says, cannot obtain cable service because their sites in office buildings, business parks and strip malls are not wired for cable, or they "must pay substantial installation charges to receive the same level of service as residential customers."

The U.S. has fallen to 16th in the world in broadband penetration rates, CFCC claims, with the consequence that "small U.S. businesses cannot fairly compete with counterparts in Asia and Europe who are currently using technologically advanced networks to reach customers and suppliers."

"A common misperception among small business owners is that there are only two ways to get a broadband connection, cable or DSL," said Mike Cook, senior vice president of HNS. "The reality is that just about every small business in the continental US can get a broadband connection using satellite."

HNS, the sponsor of the survey, sells satellite broadband services for small business. HNS's DirecWay product is designed to provide satellite access to homes and small businesses.

Oh, by the way, if you're a Maryland resident, happy "Broadband For Everyone Week," as your Gov. Robert Ehrlich has proclaimed Sept. 19-23.


David Sims is contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles by David Sims, please visit:

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